Martin Skoula struck again Monday night. The Wild had just tied it up with 4:38 left in regulation and literally before you knew it, the Sharks won the draw and dumped it in towards a streaking Jonathan Cheechoo but past a Marty Skoula who was, ostensibly, in "ready position". To be fair, the puck was bouncing like a super ball, but Skoula still decided to corral the puck and ignore the man - even at the risk of taking a totally-defensible penalty on the play - and we all know how it turned out.
This is going to sound like BS, but I saw the goal and didn't know who the defenseman was. But I said, "that was Skoula..." because, well, who else could it have been?
At the very least, the Wild should have gotten one point out of that game. Hell, they might have even gotten two considering they had every ounce of the momentum at that moment. This was a much better effort against a Sharks team that completely owned us three weeks ago. I don't care if you grab Cheechoo by the balls and thrown him to the ice there - any penalty you take, short of a Simon-to-Hollweg, is justified.
Man or the puck. That "lowest common denominator" decision is drilled into the head of every pee-wee defenseman around the world every year. You don't need both, but you must get one. And if the latter is bouncing around like Tigger on PCP then the decision becomes very, very simple. You can say, "Backstrom still got beat" and you're right. But he shouldn't have been in the position to need to make a save in the first place. Nope, this one was all Skoula.
After the game, he would say "Maybe I could have played it differently, but I don't think it was a lack of focus." No, Marty, it doesn't have to be a lack of focus when you have such a resounding lack of brain. I mean, what other explanantion could there be? I don't think it's a lack of the necessary skillset. I mean, he can settle a puck, he can make a hit, he can take a shot...no, he has the tools to at least be a serviceable defenseman in the NHL and not screw up. So he's either lazy or he's stupid. I personally don't think you'll get very far in the NHL if you're lazy. Ergo sum, he's stupid.
Look, I'm not saying the other guys don't make mistakes. Lord knows Burnsie makes his fair share of them on a nightly basis. But, as I've said in the past, Burnsie gets more of a pass because he's still learning the position. At 675 games into an NHL career, there's no "learning the position" leeway available anymore. And, more importantly, Burnsie brings another tangible element that benefits the team - namely his offense - that makes his shortcomings defensively easier to swallow. Skoula does nothing offensively.
So, you have a guy who does nothing offensively and can't even be counted on to perform the most-basic defensive tasks on a regular basis. Yet he's playing night in and night out, while solid-if-unspectacular defensemen like Keith Carney sit. What am I missing here?
JL has benched and scratched guys for one mistake this season already. But not Skoula. Carney is tied for the team lead in plus/minus (+7), guess who has the team worst (-13)? If you were Carney, wouldn't you be royally pissed? I certainly would.
I suppose it would be one thing if Skoula's spectacular F-ups were limited to games like the Rangers game when he tripped over the goal line and gave the Rangers a goal, but the Wild still won. But when he's directly costing the Wild points? I find it very difficult to accept that. Particularly since we have 8 healthy defensemen.
I don't care what DR can get for him. Nothing is too little. Just get him out of here. And in the mean time, JL must sit him down for a game or twenty.
PS Don't take my word for it.
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: Martin Skoula, you're my hero!
POLLYANNA SAYS: A Pyrrhic victory is still a victory, though? Right??
BOTTOM LINE: It's too tight to give away points like that.
STUD: Parrish's GTG got swept under the rug, but it was still clutch and the team needs clutch from Mark.
DUD: Come on, you didn't really even need to read this part to know.